5 Long-Time Direct Mail Controls and Why They Still Work
People ask me all the time what direct mail is most worth studying for ideas. Even before I mention whatever is being mailed in their industry, I recommend the Grand Controls.
These are the best packages, the box office champions that have driven the most customer and donor response for a period of three years or more. Who’s Mailing What! has been cataloguing them for thirty years.
A few weeks ago, I pored through my database of 1672 of them to find the longest-running controls still in the mail today. Here’s a quick look at five of them, and why they work.
1. Amnesty International
I’ve written about this package before. I’m amazed that it’s still driving membership for Amnesty today, about thirty years after it was introduced. The copy and the outer get tweaked from time-to-time, but it remains, in Denny Hatch’s words, a “powerhouse of guilt.”
The letter runs down a list of places in the world where human rights abuses occur, and asks the donor to sign and return the enclosed “Message of Hope” card. Why? It explains: “His name is Constantino, and for years he was held in a tiny cell; his only human contact was with his torturers.” One day, he gets one of those personalized hope cards. It lets him know that people are working for his release. Eight months later, he is freed. A very powerful involvement device.
2. The Humane Farming Association
This is another fundraising appeal that’s been around forever. Well, since 1998 anyway. This photo of a baby calf chained in a wooden box takes up a third of the outer. “He Can’t Turn Around- ,” it starts, “We Can’t Turn Our Backs!” The letter inside goes into rather gruesome detail describing veal industry practices in the United States, for two out of its four pages.